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Tour Du Mont Blanc Cyclo

jethers77jethers77 Posts: 18
Hi,

I have just signed up for this in July this year and wondered if there was anyone out there who has done one before or is doing this years?

Any advice, reviews, tips or any opinions welcomed.

For those that haven't seen what it is - http://www.letourdumontblanc.fr/epreuve.php?C=104#course

Thanks

Posts

  • hot-doghot-dog Posts: 2
    I've done it twice 2014 & 2018. Firstly it's an truly awesome route & one heck of a challenge

    As you might expect in the Alps the weather is incredibly unpredictable and valley to valley can be totally different so prepared for anything to be thrown at you. 2014 was the year of a biblical storm; lightning, flooding, landslides & fallen trees. Having left 25 deg in Bourg St Maurice it was 2 deg with hail & sleet on the Roseland.

    You've got two drop bags, which can be transported to any of the feed stops so pack two sets of everything into them longs, shorts, waterproofs, gloves, thermals, Chamois Creme ..well you get the picture. Having a full change into dry kit at the top of the Grd St. Bernard was very comforting.
    If your riding with a buddy you effectively have 4-drop bags at your disposal. Mark them with something bright. They usually pile them by colour at the feeds & you can spend a frustrating amount of time searching for your blue bag amongst a sea of blue.

    The feeds are well stocked, gels, bars, real food. The latter ones have hot food & drinks. Bizarrely they don't provide any toilet facilities at the stops...That's the french for you :lol: So plan carefully.

    Lights...You need lights. You've got a 10km descent in the dark at the start. There's street furniture, potholes & loons that have more balls than ability. depending on how strong you are there's the possibility of finishing in the dark too. I saw riders still finishing at midnight!!!!!

    Be prepared to witness a lot of cheating...I don't mean the odd minor indiscretion. I mean blatant drafting behind support cars for Km after Km. I saw one guy draft his support car into a headwind all the way up the Roseland last year.
    Why...well only they can answer that. Just tip back your halo & be smug that you're doing it by your own means. Punching them leads to all sorts of necessary bother.

    Finally It's hard...boy is it hard mentally & physically, but crossing the finish line is exhilarating. There will be dark times but you will meet loads of genuinely lovely people who are all suffering in their own ways. Last year I finished with 3-french guys who I'd been to'in & fro'in with the entire ride. We crossed the line side by side had a very British handshake (non of that french cheek to cheek stuff) & went our separate ways. Enjoy :D
  • manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
    Road - Volagi Liscio
    MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy
  • Dorset_BoyDorset_Boy Posts: 2,591
    There's a write up from last year's event in this month's Cyclist magazine. Stu Blowers did it (well he quit 30 kms from the end). Sounds like an incredibly tough event.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,662
    Never done it, but I've done several 300+ km rides, some quite hilly. Typically the reason people quit is either they are unprepared for the weather or they unprepared for the distance, meaning they start off as if it was the usual 100 mile ride.

    Pace yourself, eat and drink at every opportunity, make sure you have clothes for the cold, even if the forecast says otherwise and even if a large seat pack looks stupid (it won't when you need it).
    Most importantly, keep a positive attitude, even if the weather turns, or you have 2 punctures or more generally things don't go as planned
  • jethers77jethers77 Posts: 18
    Thanks for the responses.

    I did La Marmotte last year so my basic plan was to ride it slower than I did that and hopefully with some decent weather and good fuelling it will make it more manageable.

    I have a few events planned for warmup between now and then and training is going well so far.

    I will update this thread with the progress.
  • jethers77jethers77 Posts: 18
    hot-dog wrote:
    I've done it twice 2014 & 2018. Firstly it's an truly awesome route & one heck of a challenge

    As you might expect in the Alps the weather is incredibly unpredictable and valley to valley can be totally different so prepared for anything to be thrown at you. 2014 was the year of a biblical storm; lightning, flooding, landslides & fallen trees. Having left 25 deg in Bourg St Maurice it was 2 deg with hail & sleet on the Roseland.

    You've got two drop bags, which can be transported to any of the feed stops so pack two sets of everything into them longs, shorts, waterproofs, gloves, thermals, Chamois Creme ..well you get the picture. Having a full change into dry kit at the top of the Grd St. Bernard was very comforting.
    If your riding with a buddy you effectively have 4-drop bags at your disposal. Mark them with something bright. They usually pile them by colour at the feeds & you can spend a frustrating amount of time searching for your blue bag amongst a sea of blue.

    The feeds are well stocked, gels, bars, real food. The latter ones have hot food & drinks. Bizarrely they don't provide any toilet facilities at the stops...That's the french for you :lol: So plan carefully.

    Lights...You need lights. You've got a 10km descent in the dark at the start. There's street furniture, potholes & loons that have more balls than ability. depending on how strong you are there's the possibility of finishing in the dark too. I saw riders still finishing at midnight!!!!!

    Be prepared to witness a lot of cheating...I don't mean the odd minor indiscretion. I mean blatant drafting behind support cars for Km after Km. I saw one guy draft his support car into a headwind all the way up the Roseland last year.
    Why...well only they can answer that. Just tip back your halo & be smug that you're doing it by your own means. Punching them leads to all sorts of necessary bother.

    Finally It's hard...boy is it hard mentally & physically, but crossing the finish line is exhilarating. There will be dark times but you will meet loads of genuinely lovely people who are all suffering in their own ways. Last year I finished with 3-french guys who I'd been to'in & fro'in with the entire ride. We crossed the line side by side had a very British handshake (non of that french cheek to cheek stuff) & went our separate ways. Enjoy :D

    Thanks for the advice, some invaluable bits in there.

    Was surprised to read about the cheating and drafting, surely defeats the object of doing an event like this.
  • manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
    It’s not a race, even compared to the marmotte, so there is no real control or limits, and since outside help is allowed anywhere, it can get a bit painful having the cars around.
    Road - Volagi Liscio
    MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy
  • jethers77jethers77 Posts: 18
    4 weeks this Saturday and this happens! Got round the Dragon Devil not too bad but to think of an extra 40km and 3000m more climbing is still a bit daunting. So hard to find much info and write up on this event as I guess so few have done it. Definitely think i'll do a write up afterwards for others - assuming I make it round!
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,444
    How did you get on at the weekend Jethers? Hope you had a fantastic day.

    Have got this event on the radar for next year so would be interested to hear any feedback that you have.
  • mrb123 wrote:
    How did you get on at the weekend Jethers? Hope you had a fantastic day.

    Have got this event on the radar for next year so would be interested to hear any feedback that you have.

    Hi,

    Sorry for the late reply! Yes it was a good day, a long day though! I finished in 18hrs 53mins (16hr50mins of riding time)

    It's a fantastic day though, great comradeship amongst the riders, I was only riding alone in the later stages and even then there was usually someone a bit behind or a bit ahead.

    There was a course change the week before though as the U23 Pro race was going up the Champex on the same day so we had to detour around that and do 2 climbs in Italy which included the Colle San Carlo - a brute at 10km at 10% all the way!

    Strava - https://www.strava.com/activities/2549119952

    Footage from the first half, had a spare battery but was too tired to even change it! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmV4Z501cEU

    I can highly recommend it but you need to put the training in to get round. 451 finishers from 750 starters and we had good weather so 60% is about the best completion rate and looking around at the start everyone looked fit. It's as much a mental battle to keep pushing on as a physical one. I had a 5min sit down on the Roseland and had to give myself a good talking to to get back on.

    Great sense of achievement at the finish though and the final 3km listening to 3 Italian chaps chattering away in the dark as we followed our lights was the most enjoyable and surreal 3km I have ever ridden!
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,444
    Cheers for the reply, sounds like an amazing day and an extremely tough one!

    I'll have a look at your full video when I get chance.

    A few questions if you don't mind...
    Were there many busy roads to negotiate? I've heard that the support vehicles can be a pain but what about general traffic on the route?
    Did you organise your trip yourself or go with an organised/supported trip? Any advice in respect of travel, accommodation etc?
    Did you have to carry much stuff with you or did you rely on the bag drops? It strikes me that a fair bit of clothing would be required to cover the early morning start and the potential for hitting wet weather when high up.

    Any other feedback or advice would be gratefully received. Definitely got this one on the radar for next summer...
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 24,662
    Rerouting you up Colle San Carlo sounds like a bad joke from the organiser... it's not a climb I would want to do on top of all the others
  • manxshredmanxshred Posts: 287
    When I did it, the worst road was the initial parts of the saint bernard climb, especially the tunnel before you turn off to the old road. Else the roads were fine.

    I went via Geneva, booked my own accommodation (book early) and hired a car.

    I was self supported, in changeable weather, so had a jacket tied around my waist, and layers.
    The food drops were helpful, but plan carefully to make sure you get food when needed, and not too late in the ride. The tables at the stops were also quite good.
    Road - Volagi Liscio
    MTB - Santa Cruz TallBoy
  • mrb123 wrote:
    Cheers for the reply, sounds like an amazing day and an extremely tough one!

    I'll have a look at your full video when I get chance.

    A few questions if you don't mind...
    Were there many busy roads to negotiate? I've heard that the support vehicles can be a pain but what about general traffic on the route?
    Did you organise your trip yourself or go with an organised/supported trip? Any advice in respect of travel, accommodation etc?
    Did you have to carry much stuff with you or did you rely on the bag drops? It strikes me that a fair bit of clothing would be required to cover the early morning start and the potential for hitting wet weather when high up.

    Any other feedback or advice would be gratefully received. Definitely got this one on the radar for next summer...

    As others have said the only busy road was the early slopes of the Grand Bernard, Swiss drivers are not very considerate either! All the other roads were fine, quite a few support cars to dodge in the early km's but easy enough.

    I went with Velocamps, a small company run by Ed Maxwell - top bloke and well run - He has tonnes of experience doing it and lives locally so knows all the tips you need. They provided extra feed stops and allowed me to have a bag in the van with my own stuff in it.

    I was lucky with the weather so only needed to dump my gilet and 2nd gloves with them after the initial descent and then put a jacket on for the descent off the Roseland.

    Having the support car was most useful for your own food, gels, drinks etc plus charger for garmin.
    Rerouting you up Colle San Carlo sounds like a bad joke from the organiser... it's not a climb I would want to do on top of all the others

    Yeah that was a tough climb to have added, I felt good to that point but it took a load out of me and certainly made the rest of the route tougher.
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